As I look back on my life one year ago, I have somehow convinced myself that my graduate school search was simple, straightforward, and easy going. One of my close friends recently gave me a reality check when she reminded me that I was, in her words, “an emotional and indecisive wreck.” Ouch! But, what are friends for? To be honest, she was correct. This time last year I was a mess. I held several leadership positions on campus, was preparing for graduation, taking a full course load, and applying for graduate school. That’s a lot to do and do well.
It was at this point that I decided to make my graduate school process a top priority. I’m not sure if this was the best decision or not, but it was the choice I made. Another difficult choice I had to make was not attending SDA Preview Days. Due to financial circumstances I was not able to afford the costs of travel. Fortunately, SDA still allowed me to participate in the GA interview process and they even sent me the Preview Days manual that those present received! Considering that many schools require that your present for interview days regardless of your circumstances, I really appreciated SU’s support during this already stressful time in my life.
So how did I decide to move to a place that I had never been before? I guess in a way you could say that I created my own Preview Days experience all the way from Illinois. First, I took advantage of making connections with others on the Facebook group. This was a great way for me to get an idea of potential classmates in regards to the cultural diversity, interests and experience levels. This group also put me in direct contact with Dustin and Stephanie who coordinated last year’s program. In addition to the Facebook group I also took the time to directly contact current students and an alumnus to hear about their experiences at SU and in Seattle. I particularly found value in their willingness to be open and honest about their overall experience. Third, I took advantage of my GA phone interviews by asking questions to gauge supervisors perspectives on the SDA program, Seattle U and also the city. Lastly, I payed close attention to the SUSDA blog. I not only read posts that focused on Preview Days, but I also read older posts. I really appreciate the honesty of the SUSDA bloggers and the variety of perspectives shared which is why I have tried my best to contribute as a first year.
Do I wish I could have physically attended Preview Days? Of course. Do I regret not breaking the bank to come? Of course not. I was able to attend another institution’s interview days and I still chose to come to the institution and city I had never visited before. (Literally, my drive to Seattle in August was my first time ever here!) At the end of the day, there’s only so much you can learn about a program without actually being a part of it. Whether or not you will be in Seattle next week I suggest asking a lot of questions, talk to as many different people as you can, and pay attention to your inner voice.
Regardless of which graduate program you choose, congratulations on coming this far in the process and I look forward to meeting you in Seattle or in another place along our Student Affairs journey!